Polk among 59 N.C. counties designated to get drought assistance

Published 11:55 am Friday, November 14, 2008

Polk County is among 59 counties in North Carolina that are now eligible for federal assistance because of the ongoing drought.

Gov. Mike Easley announced Friday the U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted his request to have 59 counties designated as disaster areas because of crop losses caused by drought and extreme heat during 2008. &bsp;

Easley had asked for the disaster declaration on Oct. 3, citing excessive agricultural losses for at least one major crop, and significant losses on corn, soybeans, hay, and pasture and other forage crops.&bsp; He also called for residents to continue water conservation efforts, especially in western North Carolina, which has not experienced the recovery from the drought seen in other parts of the state.

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&dquo;I am pleased the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved our call to help an industry that is a significant part of the North Carolina economy,&dquo; said Easley. &dquo;While most parts of the state have now recovered from the drought, that does not change the fact that many of our farmers suffered crop losses due to drought for two straight years, and they need help to recover.&dquo;

The 59 counties approved in Easley&squo;s request are:

Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Beaufort, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Cherokee, Chowan, Clay, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Gates, Graham, Greene, Haywood, Henderson, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Lenoir, Macon, Madison, Martin, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Orange, Pender, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Polk, Robeson, Rockingham, Rutherford, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Tyrrell, Washington , Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes, Wilson, and Yadkin.

Under USDA rules, 37 contiguous counties were also included in the disaster declaration. Those counties are:

Alamance, Alexander, Anson, Bertie, Bladen, Camden, Carteret, Catawba, Chatham, Cumberland, Dare, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Iredell, Johnston, Lincoln, Mitchell, Montgomery, Moore, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Randolph, Richmond, Rowan, Stokes, Union, Wake, Warren, and Yancey.

The declaration makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the U.S. Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met.

Assistance includes low interest emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. &bsp;

Farmers should contact the Farm Service Agency office in their county for more information. For county FSA contact information, go to www.fsa.usda.gov and click on &dquo;State Offices,&dquo; then on &dquo;North Carolina&dquo; and &dquo;County Offices.&dquo;